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Fact check: Will Mexico’s new army-run airline feature soldiers as flight attendants?

Mexico has announced its army-run airline will start up in September 2023, but flight attendants won’t be soldiers.
Mexico has announced its army-run airline will start up in September 2023, but flight attendants won’t be soldiers. Copyright AP Photo/Marco Ugarte File
Copyright AP Photo/Marco Ugarte File
By Euronews Travel with APTN
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Mexico promises its new Mexicana airline will offer cheap tickets and new routes.


Mexico is launching its army-run 'Mexicana' airline in September.

The country's armed forces are becoming increasingly powerful under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Trains, law enforcement, tourism and infrastructure projects have already been put under their command.

That includes one tourist ferry line serving the Isla Marias islands that is staffed by navy personnel.

The new airline could service 20 potential routes between Mexico City and large and mid-size Mexican cities, some of which have limited service at present, as well as tourist resorts like Cancun.

What will it be like to fly with Mexico's army-run airline?

On the new Mexicana airline, you won’t have to worry about being told to “Fasten your seatbelt, and that’s an order!”

Despite being run by the army, it will not feature soldiers as flight attendants.

The Defense Department said the airline will lease 10 Boeing 737-800 jets from the manufacturer, which will also provide pilots and cabin crew.

Tickets could be cheaper than normal - Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval promised prices would be 18 to 20 per cent below private competitors. 

He was unsure if the airline would profitable, however. If not, it is speculated that it would have to operate with government subsidies.

Sandoval originally said the contract with Boeing would be for $4 billion (€3.65 billion), but later corrected himself to say he meant 4 billion pesos, or about €214 million.

The airline will utilise Mexico City's military-led airport

Mexicana will boost traffic at the new Felipe Angeles airport in Mexico City. Operated by a military-led company, the underused airport was built by the president as a third hub serving the capital.

The company is also constructing a new airport at the Caribbean coast resort of Tulum.

The airline will also apparently provide flights to feed passengers into the president's Maya Train tourism project. The army is building that train line, which will connect beach resorts and archaeological sites on the Yucatan Peninsula.

The army, which has no experience running commercial flights, has created a subsidiary to be in charge of Mexicana.

López Obrador has suggested the new airline might also serve one of the classic roles of state-owned carriers: providing service to provincial airports on routes considered unprofitable by commercial airlines. That idea could contradict regulations that now prohibit airlines from running Mexican airports, or vice versa.

The airline is named after a former state-owned carrier

The airline has been named Mexicana after a partly state-owned carrier that went into bankruptcy in 2010 and closed.

The 8,500 laid-off former employees of Mexicana are longtime supporters of the president. His administration agreed to pay them almost $50 million (€45.5 million) for the commercial rights to the old airline's brand name and some decrepit properties. Experts have said the amount far exceeded the market value.

The new airline combines López Obrador’s love of state-owned companies - he has criticised decisions by previous administrations to sell off once-extensive government companies - and his near-total reliance on the armed forces, which he views as honest and a bulwark against corruption.

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